FORT HOOD, Texas -- As the Directorate of Public Works here lays out its plan for barracks renovations, the light can be seen at the end of the tunnel.
“For us on barracks, the solution is to build new barracks, renovate existing barracks and then once they’re renovated, we’ve really made a concerted effort to go in and try to maintain them,” Brent Cabaniss, chief of DPW’s engineering division, explained. “We want to extend the life of that new build.”
The installation currently has 99 barracks, with beds for 15,500 Soldiers. There are 21 barracks currently under construction and another 21 slated for construction in the next few years.
The Great Place has five different styles of barracks, depending on the decade they were built in.
• Rolling Pin barracks, when seen from above, are fat in the middle and slim on the ends, like a rolling pin.
• H-Frame barracks, when seen from above, look like a capital H.
• Hammerhead barracks, when seen from above, look like the head of a hammer.
• VOLAR barracks, which stand for voluntary, were built following the Vietnam draft-era, when the Army became a voluntary force.
• Modern barracks were built in the 1990s and 2000s.
Cabaniss explained that there’s an Army standard for new barracks, which is always their goal during renovation. He said the way the columns are laid out, some barracks cannot be changed into an apartment style, so they just try to make the most of the existing footprint.
“The goal is to get the Army standard in this existing building. You can’t always do that,” he said, “you always have to sacrifice something because, dimensionally, they’re different. I think we do as much in the existing building that we can do.”
Cabaniss said to help provide the Soldiers with additional space in the Rolling Pin barracks, which he said do not fit well dimensionally to create apartment-style barracks, they have constructed an area on the ground floor for TA-50 lockers. He said the hope is to give the Soldiers some additional space in their barracks room.
One of the issues Soldiers have reported in the barracks is mold, caused by heating, ventilation and air conditioning units not controlling humidity very well. The renovated barracks have new energy-efficient HVAC units to help alleviate that problem. He said another improvement is moving the HVAC unit from inside the rooms to a closet on the outside of the rooms.
“In the past, the HVAC was in the rooms, so if there was a leak or something, they’d have to find the Soldier to get access to the barracks (room),” Cabaniss said. “Now, we’ve moved the HVAC to the outside, so our maintenance technicians can access them from the exterior corridors.”
During a virtual housing town hall on Oct. 8, Brian Dosa, DPW director, discussed future renovations and the possibility of new barracks on the horizon. He began by noting that recently renovated apartment-style barracks did not have interior doors on the rooms due to a pilot program meant to improve resiliency. Lt. Gen. Pat White, III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general, recently directed the doors be put on. Dosa said door installation is complete in one 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade barracks and will be complete in four 3rd Cavalry Regiment barracks in 2021.
During the same town hall, Dosa explained that the Army has developed a Facility Investment Plan, which programs more than $300 million for barracks renovations at Fort Hood over the next ten years. Under the same plan, the Army has programmed more than $400 million to construct seven new barracks that will house nearly 2,000 Soldiers.
He said the barracks under renovation were built in the 1950s and in dire need of renovation. As for the remaining 21 barracks to be renovated, he said they are working hard to keep them livable until they can begin renovation on them.
“Barracks are a top priority for us,” Dosa said, “and I think we have a good way ahead to continue progress on renovations over the next five to six years.”